Empowering through Education

We know that language and literacy are major barriers to success for newcomers, in school and in the workplace. At Neighborhood House, new education initiatives are empowering kids to succeed in school, and adults to re-enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete.

A new partnership with Burmese Immersion Project, a refugee service provider focusing on school-age youth, is strengthening families by helping kids succeed in school. The partnership provides classroom space for tutoring twice a week, facilities for athletics and recreational activities, and opportunities for social integration. Burmese Immersion Project was founded by Milwaukee natives Robert Heffernan and Rebecca Schultz in 2011 in response to the needs of refugee families whose children were struggling in school. Over 1000 Burmese refugees have been relocated in Milwaukee after fleeing civil war and human rights abuses in their native country; many have spent decades with scarce access to food, safe shelter, and basic education. As a result, their children need support meeting new academic challenges, adjusting to a new culture, and learning the English language. What started as a volunteer tutoring program now serves over fifty students a month. [Read more at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service] [PRESS RELEASE]

At Neighborhood House’s International Learning Center, a special class for displaced Cargill workers is addressing the specific needs of adult refugees and immigrants, many of whom have a good track record  as employees but are hampered in the job market by a lack of prior education. ESL Instructor Michelle Martin is leading learner-centered, 12-hours-a-week classes funded by the Milwaukee HIRE (Help‐In‐Re‐Employment) Center, under the auspices of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board. The HIRE Center  provides an array of programs and services to dislocated workers in Milwaukee County. A recent Radio 88Nine news story captures some of the excitement of this effort, which includes students from Serbia, Somalia, Burma, and other countries.

In addition, International Learning Center is proud to announce that Lead Citizenship Instructor Crystal Custalow recently received accreditation status by the Board of Immigration Appeals at the U.S. Department of Justice. As of December 2014, she can represent immigrants and refugees in proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security and independently prepare citizenship and immigration forms.

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